Top Five Castles of Transylvania You Should See
Transylvania is Romania’s most popular travel destination, and its charming and mysterious castles are a big part of the almost mythical fascination it spreads. From well-known monuments like Bran Castle to smaller and ruined castles that once belonged to the local aristocratic families, the hundreds of castles of Transylvania tell a story of their own rise and decay, often directly connected to the troubled history of Romania. We’ve prepared a short guide of the top five castles of Transylvania to help you better plan your visit, but don’t forget there are many more waiting to be discovered and saved from ruin.
One of the top medieval attractions from Transylvania, Corvin Castle from Hunedoara is for good reason listed by all travel guides as a must-see of the region. The residence of Price Ioan of Hunedoara centuries ago, one of the most successful medieval combatants of the Ottoman Empire, the impressive Gothic castle is today one of the most visited attractions in Transylvania. Dating from the 14th century, the castle went through several architectural changes and renovations over the years, remaining still one of the most impressive Gothic castles in Eastern and Central Europe. The castle was used as the background of several movies, and hosts many events including opera and film festivals.
Location: Hunedoara, Hunedoara County
Visiting hours on www.castelulcorvinilor.ro
For sure the medieval Saxons who built the fortress of Bran in the 14th century had no idea how famous their work will be more than half of millennium later. Emerged over night as an international attraction given its false, yet so much promoted, connection to the Dracula myth, Bran Castle is Romania’s most visited museum.
Essentially a medieval fortress built to defend and control the commerce done via the mountain pass Rucar-Bran, the construction found its most glorious use after 1920 when Queen Maria received it as a gift for her struggle to the cause of Romania’s Great Union from 1918. A royal residence until it was confiscated by the communists in 1947, Bran Castle functioned ever since as a museum.
Location: Bran, Brasov County
Visiting hours on www.bran-castle.com
After visiting the castle, stop for a few days and enjoy one of the best views in the Carpathians at the Inn on Balaban, an authentic guest house built only with traditional techniques and materials, far away from the crowds.
Discover the Inn on Balaban
A castle in ruins that has a real chance to recover its past glory, Banffy Castle from Bontida has recently become the scene of a major music festival. Once known as the Versailles of Transylvania, the castle went through several construction phases from the 16th until the 19th centuries. It was fortified with towers and ramparts in the 17th century and remained in the possession of the Banffy family until the nationalization done by the communists.
Photo source Foundation Transilvania Trust
Famous for its vast gardens, the most beautiful from Transylvania until 1944, the castle and its park were destroyed by the events of the Second World War and once more by the communist authorities who intentionally used it for activities that contributed even more to its decay. The most ample restoration works of the castle began only a few years back and are carried by the Foundation Transilvania Trust.
The closest attractions include the vibrant city of Cluj-Napoca.
Location: Bontida, Cluj County
Visiting hours: from 10 am to 8 pm
The area of Mures is well-known for its many castles, palaces and aristocratic residences. There are so many that you’d actually need an entire vacation to see all of them, but the imposing Teleki Castle is for sure one of those unmissable attractions. With a history that extends over centuries, the Teleki family was one of the most notable from the history of Transylvania, its members occupying high political functions. One of them, Laszlo Teleki, starts building the castle we see today at the end of the 18th century, his descendants creating one of the region’s most famous parks around it and one of the richest libraries.
Photo by Andrei Kokelburg via https://ro.wikipedia.org
Damaged by the Second World War and turned into a medical care center by the communist regime, the castle with 365 windows – one for each day of the year – is, nonetheless, part of the few that found their way back to its rightful owners.
The closest attraction is the city of Targu-Mures, only 17 km away.
Location: Gornesti, Mures County
More information on: http://gernyeszeg.com
We’re back in Cluj County, in Manastirea, for a castle that was once one of the most gorgeous Renaissance-style monuments from Transylvania. Kornis Castle dates from the end of the 16th century and was for centuries the residence of the aristocratic Kornis family who expanded the construction in several phases. Sadly, the castle, once known as the ‘castle with unicorns’ after the two statues of the mythical creatures that guard the entry, was severely damaged in the 20th century. Only the tower gate from 1720 and the ruins from the main part of the castle are still standing today.
Photo by Daria Virbanescu via https://ro.wikipedia.org
The closest attractions include the cities of Cluj-Napoca and Bistrita.
Location: Manastirea, Cluj County
These are just five of the many castles of Transylvania you should see while exploring the land beyond the forest. But don’t forget, most likely you’ll find many more along the way. Keep your eyes open for signs pointing to historical monuments and buy a reliable map or travel guide.